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Gonzo Report: Roni Lee, Monette Marino, and Shamini Jain bring love and support for violinist Jamie Shadowlight

Oscillating from somber to elated at The Music Box

Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music
Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music
Video:

GONZO REPORT: Roni Lee, Monette Marino, Shamini Jain bring love and support for Jamie Shadowlight



“I can’t even begin to understand what you’re going through,” says a woman, comforting her friend as we wait in line at Little Italy’s Music Box. It’s the first emotional moment in a night of full of them here at a fundraising event for violinist Jamie Shadowlight, who is battling stage 4 cervical cancer. My assignment now includes adding a video component to augment the printed story, and it seems simple enough, but I feel ghoulish asking a distraught woman if she could say a few words. She declines, but her consoling companion Elizabeth Vaughan — whose husband Greg is playing with Shamini Jain tonight — agrees when I tell her it’s all about Jamie. What I’m looking for are clips of people that support her saying so and sharing their love. 

I will oscillate from somber to elated throughout the night. One moment of elation comes when I fanboy — yes, it’s a verb — over bassist Jack Wagner, who is also part of Jain’s band. We discuss bass for a moment, and I say something nerdy about wanting to play like him when I grow up before he politely excuses himself.

Inside the venue, the conversations are testaments to the love and respect that Shadowlight inspires. Peppered among the tributes and reminiscences is speculation about her possible appearance tonight. Though Shadowlight does not materialize in physical form, a painting up for silent auction captures her ethereal presence. Entitled Sunset Music, artist Irina Negulescu’s color and pose choices are not so much a tribute as an embodiment.

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Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music

When the woman at the merch booth asks me if I want to talk with Runaways songwriter Roni Lee, who is on the bill tonight, I probably reply, “Fuck yeah I wanna talk to Roni Lee.” I won’t confirm or deny that, because I’m a professional, but that doesn’t stop me from getting a selfie with Lee after the interview, or from adding a Lee T-shirt to my collection. Jules Whelpton is providing the low end for Lee tonight, and we get a chance to chat about upcoming shows and do a video interview. Known as “that blonde bassist,” Whelpton is a multi-instrumentalist who teaches violin; she says one of her inspirations is Shadowlight (for whom a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover medical bills).

Onstage, Monette Marino leads her band in genre-defying music — elements of funk and jazz processed through a world lens. It gets the audience and the bartenders dancing, though they stop the second I try to take a video of them. The music is infectious, and I later tell her the band’s bass player is one of those musicians that make me feel like I am a total beginner. She laughs and tells me they didn’t even play the song where he matches the horns in a call and response, and I make a mental note to attend her next show. Shamini Jain follows, and delivers a hard rock set that concludes with a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years.” A Maiden cover makes sense, as Jain once fronted tribute band Up the Irons. But the song selection seems more emotionally charged tonight. Maybe it’s the moment, the purpose for gathering, that does it. More likely, it’s because of Jain’s intention to heal and comfort through music. It’s not lip service; it’s a way of life for a woman who got her PhD in Clinical Psychology and Psychoneuroimmunology from the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

Out on the smoking patio, a woman named Mercedes Carvajal compliments my Porcupine Tree shirt. As we talk about all things metal, current and former bands come up. Turns out she’s the singer for Door 13, a San Diego metal band that I add to my ever-growing list of shows to check out. As we both head in to catch the end of Lee’s set, Roni spots Carvajal and tells her to get her ass up on stage during an encore of “Chain of Fools” that morphs seamlessly into “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and back, with all the singers from tonight’s bands trading vocals, and all the musicians intuitively joining in and trading leads. Without warming up, Carvajal delivers some soul-melting singing.

Throughout the night, there have been chants of “Jamie” and declarations of love and support. But it’s this display — this performance that is both professional and organic, born from an undeniable bond and connection through music that transcends words and transforms them into action and power — that brings it home to the heart.

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Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music
Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music
Video:

GONZO REPORT: Roni Lee, Monette Marino, Shamini Jain bring love and support for Jamie Shadowlight



“I can’t even begin to understand what you’re going through,” says a woman, comforting her friend as we wait in line at Little Italy’s Music Box. It’s the first emotional moment in a night of full of them here at a fundraising event for violinist Jamie Shadowlight, who is battling stage 4 cervical cancer. My assignment now includes adding a video component to augment the printed story, and it seems simple enough, but I feel ghoulish asking a distraught woman if she could say a few words. She declines, but her consoling companion Elizabeth Vaughan — whose husband Greg is playing with Shamini Jain tonight — agrees when I tell her it’s all about Jamie. What I’m looking for are clips of people that support her saying so and sharing their love. 

I will oscillate from somber to elated throughout the night. One moment of elation comes when I fanboy — yes, it’s a verb — over bassist Jack Wagner, who is also part of Jain’s band. We discuss bass for a moment, and I say something nerdy about wanting to play like him when I grow up before he politely excuses himself.

Inside the venue, the conversations are testaments to the love and respect that Shadowlight inspires. Peppered among the tributes and reminiscences is speculation about her possible appearance tonight. Though Shadowlight does not materialize in physical form, a painting up for silent auction captures her ethereal presence. Entitled Sunset Music, artist Irina Negulescu’s color and pose choices are not so much a tribute as an embodiment.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Not so much a tribute as an embodiment: Irina Negulescu’s Sunset Music

When the woman at the merch booth asks me if I want to talk with Runaways songwriter Roni Lee, who is on the bill tonight, I probably reply, “Fuck yeah I wanna talk to Roni Lee.” I won’t confirm or deny that, because I’m a professional, but that doesn’t stop me from getting a selfie with Lee after the interview, or from adding a Lee T-shirt to my collection. Jules Whelpton is providing the low end for Lee tonight, and we get a chance to chat about upcoming shows and do a video interview. Known as “that blonde bassist,” Whelpton is a multi-instrumentalist who teaches violin; she says one of her inspirations is Shadowlight (for whom a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover medical bills).

Onstage, Monette Marino leads her band in genre-defying music — elements of funk and jazz processed through a world lens. It gets the audience and the bartenders dancing, though they stop the second I try to take a video of them. The music is infectious, and I later tell her the band’s bass player is one of those musicians that make me feel like I am a total beginner. She laughs and tells me they didn’t even play the song where he matches the horns in a call and response, and I make a mental note to attend her next show. Shamini Jain follows, and delivers a hard rock set that concludes with a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years.” A Maiden cover makes sense, as Jain once fronted tribute band Up the Irons. But the song selection seems more emotionally charged tonight. Maybe it’s the moment, the purpose for gathering, that does it. More likely, it’s because of Jain’s intention to heal and comfort through music. It’s not lip service; it’s a way of life for a woman who got her PhD in Clinical Psychology and Psychoneuroimmunology from the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

Out on the smoking patio, a woman named Mercedes Carvajal compliments my Porcupine Tree shirt. As we talk about all things metal, current and former bands come up. Turns out she’s the singer for Door 13, a San Diego metal band that I add to my ever-growing list of shows to check out. As we both head in to catch the end of Lee’s set, Roni spots Carvajal and tells her to get her ass up on stage during an encore of “Chain of Fools” that morphs seamlessly into “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and back, with all the singers from tonight’s bands trading vocals, and all the musicians intuitively joining in and trading leads. Without warming up, Carvajal delivers some soul-melting singing.

Throughout the night, there have been chants of “Jamie” and declarations of love and support. But it’s this display — this performance that is both professional and organic, born from an undeniable bond and connection through music that transcends words and transforms them into action and power — that brings it home to the heart.

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